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Dong-Young Lee 57

Journal of Universal Language 3


September 2002, 57-74



A Comparison of Unish
Grammar with Esperanto




Dong-Young Lee
Sefong Universitv



Abstract

The purpose of this paper lies in claiming that the grammar of Unish,
which has been being developed at Sejong University, is simpler, more
logical, and more regular in many aspects than that of Esperanto, which
was created more than a century ago. The validity of this claim is
checked by comparing Unish with Esperanto with regard to several
main parts of grammar such as the formation of interrogative sentences
and passive sentences, the system and use of personal pronouns and
relative pronouns, the nonuse of expletives, and the non-occurrence of
agreement in a noun phrase. On the basis of these comparisons this pa-
per concludes that it is easier to learn and use Unish than Esperanto.

Keywords: universal language, Unish, Esperanto, comparison of
grammars, principles of simplicity, logicality, regularity

I am deeply grateIul to Myung-Gun Choo Ior the guideline oI Unish grammar,


constant encouragement, and insightIul comments. Many thanks also go to Unish
researchers (Tajima Akiko, Chul-Hyun Bae, Ki-Hyung Bae, Young-Hee Chung,
Eun-Joo Kwak, Eun-Ju Noh, Hyun-Seok Park, and Jin-Young Tak) who made
useIul comments and creative suggestions.
58 A Comparison oI Unish Grammar with Esperanto
1. Introduction

As communication and trade between countries increase due to
globalization, the need Ior a common language that can be easily
acquired and used by all people in the world irrespective oI their
mother tongues also increases (Choo 1996, 2001; Hausser 2002;
Kim 2001; Kim & Read 1999; Large 1996, 2002). To satisIy the
need to overcome a language barrier to Iree communication the Se-
jong University has been developing a new universal language
called Unish (Choo et al 2000; Chung 1996, 2001; Diamond 1996)
Ior several years.
The grammar oI Unish is being constructed on the basis oI the
principles oI simplicity, logicality, and regularity. We argue that Un-
ish grammar based on these principles is easier to learn than the
grammar oI Esperanto (Comrie 1996, Esterhill 2002, Li 1991, Park
1989), which was created in the late nineteenth century. To support
this argument we compare the grammar oI Unish with that oI Espe-
ranto Irom various viewpoints. These viewpoints are based on easi-
ness in Iorming interrogative sentences and passive sentences, con-
sistency and regularity in personal pronouns, simplicity in relative
pronouns, logicality in the use oI content words instead oI expletives,
and simplicity arising Irom the non-occurrence oI agreement in
noun phrases.


2. Comparison of Grammars in Esperanto
and Unish

2.1. Interrogative Sentence

In Esperanto, the basic word order oI a sentence is a subject (S),
a verb (V), and an object (O)/a complement(C). In an interrogative
Dong-Young Lee 59
sentence a special word appears in the Iirst position oI the sentence.



(1) a. Vi ludas la pianon.
you play-Pres the piano-Acc
'You play the piano.
b. Cu vi ludas la pianon?
Intadv you play-Pres the piano-Acc
'Do you play the piano?

As shown in (1), the placement oI the word Cu in Iront oI a declara-
tive sentence makes a ves-no-question.
In a wh-question, which is another type oI an interrogative sen-
tence, the word that corresponds to a wh-word in English (namely,
who, when, where, what, whv or how) must appear in the initial posi-
tion as illustrated in (2).

(2) a. Kiam vi laboras?
when you work-Pres
'When do you work?
b. Kiu li vizitis?
who he visit-Pst
'Who did he visit?

Thus, a wh-question in Esperanto is very similar to that in Eng-
lish in that a wh-word appears in the initial position oI a sentence.

The Iollowing abbreviations are used in the gloss:



Acc: accusative Actprg: active and progressive
Adjl: adjectival AdvsuI: adverbial suIIix
Eutr: Iuture Gen: genitive
Intadv: interrogative adverb Pl: plural
Pres: present Prg: progressive
PsspreI: passive preIix PssprI: passive and perIect
Pssprg: passive and progressive Pst: past
60 A Comparison oI Unish Grammar with Esperanto
On the other hand, in Unish the word order oI a sentence
(SVO/C) is always kept regardless oI a declarative sentence or an
interrogative sentence.

(3) a. De vered tori.
you see-Pst bird
'You saw a bird.
b. De vered tori?
you see-Pst bird
'Did you see a bird?

The word order oI the two sentences in (3) is the same. The only diI-
Ierence between them is that (3a) ends with a period (.), whereas
(3b) ends with a question mark (?).
Due to the Iixed word order (SVO/C) in an Unish sentence, a
wh-word appears in situ, in accordance with its Iunction in a sen-
tence, instead oI moving to the Iront oI a wh-question.

(4) a. De vered wat?
you see-Pst what
'What did you see?
b. Wu mited de?
who meet-Pst you
'Who met you?
c. De mited wu?
you meet-Pst who
'Who did you meet?
d. Me mited de wer?
I meet-Pst you where
'Where did I meet you?
e. De vered tori wen?
you see-Pst bird when
'When did you see a bird?
Dong-Young Lee 61
I. De mited les we?
you meet-Pst they why
'Why did you meet them?

In sentence (4a), the word wat what` Iunctions as an object and
thus it appears aIter the verb vered saw`. The word wu who` in
sentence (4b) Iunctions as a subject and thus it appears beIore the
verb mited met`. Although the same word wu is used in sentence
(4c), it Iunctions as an object and thus it appears aIter a verb. In sen-
tence (4d) the word wer where` Iunctions as an adverb and thus it
appears aIter the pronoun de you`, which Iunctions as an object.
Both the word wen when` in sentence (4e) and the word we why`
in sentence (4I) also Iunction as an adverb and thus they appear aIter
an object.
ThereIore, the only diIIerence between a declarative sentence
and an interrogative sentence in Unish is that the Iormer ends with a
period or a Ialling intonation, but the latter ends with a question
mark or a rising intonation. The only thing to remember in making
an interrogative sentence in Unish is the Iixed word order (that is,
SVO/C). In Esperanto, however, a special word must be placed in
the initial position or a wh-word must be moved to the initial posi-
tion in order to make an interrogative sentence. Accordingly, in Un-
ish it is easier to learn and make an interrogative sentence to which
both a ves-no-question and a wh-question belong than in Esperanto.

2.2. Passive Sentence

In Esperanto many suIIixes are involved in making a passive
sentence.

(5) a. Vi verkis la libron.
you write-Pst the book-Acc
'You wrote the book.
62 A Comparison oI Unish Grammar with Esperanto
b. La libro estis verkita de vi.
the book be-Pst write-PssprI-Adjl by you
'The book was written by you.

The sentence in (5b) is the passive counterpart oI the active sentence
in (5a). Since the tense oI sentence (5a) is past, the suIIix is, which
indicates past tense, is attached to the verb est be` in (5b). In addi-
tion, the suIIix it which indicates perfect aspect and the suIIix a
which indicates adfectival Iunction are attached to the main verb
verk write` in (5b).
When the sentence in (5a) is changed into a sentence that has
progressive aspect as shown in (6a), the suIIix attached to the main
verb oI its passive sentence is also changed into at as illustrated in
(6b).

(6) a. Vi estis verkanta la libron.
you be-Pst write-Actprg-adjl the book-Acc
'You were writing the book.
b. La libro estis verkata de vi.
the book be-Pst write-Pssprg-adjl by you
'The book was being written by you.

Depending on the voice and aspect oI a sentence, the suIIix at-
tached to the main verb always varies in Esperanto. Nine suIIixes
(namely, int, ant, ont, it, at, ot, o, a, and e) are related to the Iorm oI
a main verb in the process oI constructing a passive sentence based
on an active sentence.
In Unish, however, only one preIix is related to the Iorm oI a
main verb in making a passive sentence, as illustrated in (7).

(7) a. Me skribed buk.
I write-Pst book
'I wrote a book.
Dong-Young Lee 63
b. Buk beskribed be me.
book PsspreI-write-Pst by I
'The book was written by me.
c. Me esed skribing buk.
I be-Pst write-Prg book
'I was writing a book.
d. Buk esed beskribing be me.
book be-Pst PsspreI-write-Prg by I
'A book was being written by me.
e. Me gived buk tu de.
I give-Pst book to you
'I gave you a book.
I. Buk begived tu de be me.
book PsspreI-give-Pst to you by I
'A book was given to you by me.
g. Les esil giving buks tu de.
they be-Futr give-Prg book-Pl to you
'They will be giving you books.
h. Buks esil begiving tu de
book-Pl be-Futr PsspreI-give-Prg to you
be les.
by they
'Books will be being given to you by them.

The sentences in (7b), (7d), (7I), and (7h) are the passive coun-
terparts oI (7a), (7c), (7e), and (7g), respectively. The only diIIer-
ence between an active sentence and its passive counterpart in the
Iorm oI a main verb is that the preIix be is attached to the main verb
in a passive sentence.
ThereIore, it is much simpler and easier to make a passive sen-
tence that corresponds to its active sentence in Unish than in Espe-
ranto.
64 A Comparison oI Unish Grammar with Esperanto
2.3. Personal Pronoun

The system oI personal pronouns in Esperanto is as illustrated in
table (8).

(8) Personal Pronouns in Esperanto
Person Singular Plural
First-Person mi ni
Second-Person vi vi
Male li
Female si Third-
Person
Thing gi

ili

The plural Iorm oI personal pronouns is not regular and the singular
Iorm oI the third-person pronouns is classiIied into three categories.
On the other hand, the system oI personal pronouns in Unish is
regular, consistent, and simpler than that in Esperanto as shown in
table (9).

(9) Personal Pronouns in Unish
Person Singular Plural
First-Person me mes
Second-Person de des
Third-Person le les

Like the plural Iorm oI common nouns, a plural personal pronoun is
obtained by attaching the suIIix s to a singular pronoun. Thus, the
plural Iorms oI all nouns are made just by attaching that suIIix to
their singular Iorms. There is only one third-person singular pronoun
and thus the reIerent oI that pronoun is determined based on the con-
text in which it is used.
Accordingly, the total number oI personal pronouns in Unish is
Dong-Young Lee 65
smaller than that in Esperanto. In addition, the plural Iorm oI per-
sonal pronouns in Unish is regular, whereas that in Esperanto is ir-
regular. Thus, it is easier to learn Unish pronouns than Esperanto
ones.

2.4. Relative Pronoun

Depending on whether a relative pronoun Iunctions as a pronoun
or an adverb in a sentence, the relative pronoun to be used varies in
Esperanto.

(10)a. Mi batis mian amikon,
I beat-Pst I-Gen-Acc Iriend-Acc
kiu estas maldiligenta.
who/which be-Pres lazy-Adjl
'I beat my Iriend who is lazy.
b. Mi ludas la pianon, kiun
I play-Pres the piano-Acc who/which-acc
miaj gepatroj ludis.
I-gen-Pl parent-PI play-Pst
'I play the piano which my parents played.
c. Mi havas la gardenon, kies
I have-Pres the Garden-Acc whose
koloro estas verda.
color be-Pres green-Adjl
'I have the garden whose color is green.
d. Mi mangis ion, kio estis
I est-Pst something that be-Pst
bongusta.
delicious-Adjl
'I ate something that was delicious.

66 A Comparison oI Unish Grammar with Esperanto
e. Mi renkontis lin hodia matene,
I meet-Pst he-Acc today morning
kiam mi prmenis.
when I take a walk-Pst
'I met him this morning in which time I took walk.
I. Mi vizitis mian hejmlokon,
I visit-Pst I-Gen-Acc hometown-Acc
kie mi logis anta dek jaroj.
where I live-Pst beIore ten year-PL
'I visited my hometown where I lived ten years ago.

The relative pronouns kiu, kiun, kies, and kio appearing respec-
tively in (10a-10d) Iunction as a pronoun, whereas the relative pro-
nouns kiam and kie occurring respectively in (10e) and (10I) Iunc-
tion as an adverb. In addition, according to the case (namely, nomi-
native, genitive, dative, and accusative) a relative pronoun takes, its
Iorm varies as shown in (10a-10c). For example, the relative pro-
noun kiu in (10a) takes nominative case, the relative pronoun kiun in
(10b) takes accusative case, and the one kies in (10c) takes genitive
case. Furthermore, when the head noun oI a relative clause belongs
to a special type as in (10d), a special relative pronoun kio is used.
On the other hand, in Unish only one relative pronoun (namely,
dat) is used irrespective oI its Iunction in a sentence.

(11) a. Les mited gens dat vered muze.
they meet-Pst people that see-Pst museum
'They met the people who saw the museum.
b. Me laik haus dat de vered.
I like house that you see-Pst
'I like the house which you saw.
c. De lov haus dat`s ruI me dezained
you love house that-Gen rooI I design-Pst
Dong-Young Lee 67
'You love the house whose rooI I designed.
d. Evriding dat beanonsed surprised les.
everything that PsspreI-announce-Pst surprise-Pst they
'Everything that was announced surprised them.
e. Di dat de leved beremor.
day that you leave-Pst PsspreI-remember
'The day when you leIt is remembered.
I. Me lov kaIe dat me mited de.
I love caIe that I meet-Pst you
'I love the caIe where I met you.

Although the relative pronoun dat appearing in (11a-11d) Iunc-
tions as a pronoun, and the one dat occurring in (11e) and (11I)
Iunctions as an adverb, their Iorm is the same. Except the occasion
oI genitive case the Iorm oI a relative pronoun is Iixed regardless oI
the case it takes as illustrated in (11a) and (11b) (Ior example, the
relative pronoun in (11a) takes nominative case, whereas the one in
(11b) takes accusative case). Moreover, even when a special head
noun oI a relative clause occurs as in (11d), the Iorm oI a relative
pronoun does not vary.
ThereIore, the total number oI relative pronouns in Unish is
much smaller than that in Esperanto. This means that it is simpler
and easier to learn the use and Iorm oI relative pronouns in Unish
than in Esperanto.

2.5. Expletive

Expletives are not used in Esperanto. Instead, the subject oI a
sentence is totally omitted as shown in (12).

(12) a. Estas la dua horo kaj dek
be-Pres the two-Adjl hour and ten
68 A Comparison oI Unish Grammar with Esperanto
minutoj.
minute-Pl
'(literally) Is the two hour and ten minutes.
'It is 2:10.
b. Pluvas multe.
rain-Pres much-AdvsuI
'(literally) Rains much.
'It rains much.
c. Estas varme.
be-Pres warm-AdvsuI
'(literally) Is warmly.
'It is warm.

The sentence in (12a) is related to time, and the subject that indi-
cates a point oI time is missing. The sentence in (12b) is related to
natural phenomenon oI raining, and only a verb and an adverb oc-
curs in the sentence. Sentence (12c) is related to weather and the
word varme in the sentence is strangely an adverb, not an adjective.
This means that in a subject-less sentence the part oI speech Ior the
word which comes aIter the est-Verb must be adverb.
In Unish, however, instead oI an expletive a meaningIul content
word is used as the subject oI a sentence, as illustrated in (13).

(13) a. Time es Ii dute.
time be Iive twenty
'(literally) Time is Iive twenty.
'It is 5:20.
b. Sno es Ialing.
snow be Iall-Prg
'(literally) Snow is Ialling.
'It is snowing.
c. Rain Ialed yedi.
Rain Iall-Pst yesterday
Dong-Young Lee 69
'(literally) Rain Iell yesterday.
'It rained yesterday.
d. Weder es kul.
weather be cool
'(literally) Weather is cool.
'It is cool.
e. Weder esed nube yedi.
weather be-Pst cloudy yesterday
'(literally) Weather was cloudy yesterday.
'It was cloudy yesterday.
I. Wind blo todi.
wind blow today
'(literally) Wind blows today.
'It is windy today.

In (13a), the word related directly to time is explicitly used as a
subject. In sentences (13b) and (13c) the real entity that Ialls Irom
the sky is speciIied in a subject. In (13d) and (13e), the content word
weder weather` is directly used as a subject in order to speak oI
weather. In sentence (13I), the actual entity that blows appears as the
subject oI the sentence.
ThereIore, in both Esperanto and Unish the expletive that takes
just the place oI a subject is not used. In Unish, however, a content
word is used as a subject and thus the meaning oI a sentence is
clearer and easier to be understood than that oI a subject-less sen-
tence in Esperanto.

2.6. Agreement in Noun Phrase (NP)

When an NP consists oI a pronoun (or an adjective) and a noun,
the Iormer agrees with the latter in number (that is, singular or plu-
ral) and case (Ior example, genitive or accusative).

70 A Comparison oI Unish Grammar with Esperanto
(14) a. Mia bona amiko venis.
I-Gen good-Gen Iriend come-Pst
'My good Iriend came.
b. Miaj bonaj amikoj venis.
I-Gen-Pl good-Gen-Pl Iriend-Pl come-Pst
'My good Iriends came.
c. Li vizitis mian bonan
he visit-Pst I-Gen-Acc good-Gen-Acc
amikon.
Iriend-Acc
'He visited my good Iriend.
d. Li vizitis miajn bonajn
he visit-Pst I-Gen-Pl-Acc good-Gen-Pl-Acc
amikojn.
Iriend-Pl-Acc
'He visited my good Iriends.

In Esperanto, the suIIix Ior making a plural noun is f, and the
suIIix a is attached to a noun (including a pronoun) or an adjective
that modiIies a noun. Thus, the suIIix a is attached to a word which
is assigned genitive case. In addition, the suIIix n is attached to a
noun whose case is accusative. But, no suIIix is attached to a noun
whose case is nominative.
In sentence (14a), the NP Mia bona amiko acts as a subject oI the
sentence and thus nominative case is assigned to it. Accordingly, no
suIIix is attached to the noun amiko in that NP. Since the pronoun mi
and the adjective bon modiIies the Iollowing noun amiko, the suIIix
a is attached to that pronoun and that adjective.
In (14b), the number oI the noun amikof is plural and thus the
suIIix f is also attached to the pronoun and the adjective that pre-
cedes and modiIies the noun.
The number and case oI the noun amikon in the NP mian bonan
amikon appearing in sentence (14c) is singular and accusative, re-
Dong-Young Lee 71
spectively. Thus the suIIix n is attached to the pronoun and the ad-
jective that precede the noun in that NP.
In (14d), the number and case oI the noun amikofn is plural and
accusative, respectively. Thus both the suIIix f and the suIIix n are
attached to the pronoun and the adjective that precedes that noun.
On the other hand, the agreement in number and case does not
occur in Unish.

(15) a. Me`s gut ami komed.
I-Gen good Iriend come-Pst
'My good Iriend came.
b. Me`s gut amis komed.
I-Gen good Iriend-Pl come-Pst
'My good Iriends came.
c. Les visited me`s gut ami.
They visit-Pst I-Gen good Iriend
'They visited my good Iriend.
d. Les visited me`s gut amis.
They visit-Pst I-Gen good Iriend-Pl
'They visited my good Iriends.

As shown in (15a) and (15c), the Iorm oI the NP mes gut ami is
Iixed irrespective oI whether it is assigned nominative case or accu-
sative case. The same applies to the Iorm oI the NP mes gut amis
appearing in (15b) and (15d). In addition, regardless oI the number
oI a noun in an NP, the Iorm oI a pronoun or an adjective that pre-
cedes the noun is Iixed as illustrated in (15a-15b) and (15c-15d).
Thus in Unish the agreement between a noun and the words preced-
ing that noun in an NP does not occur.
ThereIore, while the agreement in number and case occurs in an
Esperanto NP through the use oI several suIIixes, that phenomenon
does not occur in an Unish NP. Since there is no need to remember
suIIixes related to the agreement in an NP and attach them properly
72 A Comparison oI Unish Grammar with Esperanto
in Unish, it is easier to learn Unish NPs than Esperanto NPs.


3. Summary and ConcIuding Remarks

The comparison oI several major parts in the grammar oI Unish
and Esperanto has shown that it is easier to learn Unish grammar
than Esperanto one Ior various reasons.
First, the strict word order oI a sentence in Unish makes it very
simple to Iorm an interrogative sentence in that neither a special
word nor the movement oI a wh-word is needed unlike Esperanto.
Second, the use oI only one suIIix in Iorming a passive sentence in
Unish is much more eIIicient than that oI several suIIixes in Espe-
ranto. Third, the system oI personal pronouns in Unish is more regu-
lar, more consistent, and smaller than that in Esperanto. Fourth, the
use oI just one relative pronoun in Unish makes it easier to Iorm a
relative clause than that oI several relative pronouns in Esperanto.
FiIth, the use oI a meaningIul content word as the subject oI a sen-
tence describing natural phenomena in Unish enables people to un-
derstand the sentence more quickly and clearly than the omission oI
the subject in Esperanto. Finally, the non-occurrence oI agreement in
Unish NPs makes it simpler to use NPs than the occurrence oI
agreement in the NPs oI Esperanto.
Thanks to simplicity, regularity, consistency, and clarity oI Unish
grammar, people can acquire and use Unish more quickly and easily
than Esperanto. In addition, both human translation and machine
translation oI an existing natural language into Unish can be carried
out more eIIiciently and accurately than the translation oI the lan-
guage into Esperanto. Furthermore, Unish grammar is more Ilexible
than the grammar oI Esperanto since the Iormer can be updated by
linguists who conduct researches into Unish in accordance with the
development oI many natural languages used in the world.
Dong-Young Lee 73
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